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We celebrated in April 22, Earth Day; a day dedicated to support the protection of the environment. It is a day called to raise awareness in each one of us, not only because we care about the natural world, but also because we live in it.

It is in this context that we want to talk today about Seaspiracy, one of the latest Netflix products, directed by the filmmaker Ali Tabrizi.

 


Seaspiracy
is a 90 minutes documentary. Its main argument is the impact that fishing has on the ecosystem, human rights, sustainability, climate change, plastics in the sea ... And much more.

With this documentary, shot in several maritime regions of the world, the director, Ali Tabrizi seeks to throw light on what he sees as a collective blindness in the face of the degradation of marine ecosystems. And for him, there is no doubt that commercial fisheries are the main engine of destruction of these natural environments, which are the result of hundreds of millions of years of evolution.

In fact, this documentary is not the first product of its kind. We could cite many others such as Cowspiracy, What the Health, The Social Dilemma, etc.
Seaspiracy is laudable in the fact that it “draws the curtain” of media opinion on a terrible problem: the unsustainability of the fishing industry from an environmental, health, social, climatic point of view.
If you need a documentary to start a debate on the issue, Seaspiracy will be of benefit to you.

HERE ARE THE KEY PASSAGES OF THE DOCUMENTARY:

INTENSIVE FISHING AND BY-CATCHES
The documentary opens with the voice-over of Ali Tabrizi, a 27-year-old filmmaker fascinated by the marine ecosystem from a young age. Ali’s journey begins in Taiji, Japan, where he sets out to document dolphin fishing. There, like an investigative journalist, he realizes that these mammals are being killed as “guilty” of having competed with humans in the intensive fishing of bluefin tuna, now reduced to 3% of the species due to its extremely high market value.
 

FAKE TRADEMARKS
The documentary then continues to investigate the brands that should guarantee the ethics of fishing. Ali explains to us how these are unnecessary due to the impossibility of regulation that can guarantee their validity. As a matter of facts, some of the accused brands, Dolphin Safe and Marine Stewardship Council, are funded by the fisheries themselves.

PLASTICS AND FISHING NETS
The documentary then goes on to illustrate that 46% of the plastics in the oceans have nothing to do with the infamous straws that end up in the nostrils of turtles, they rather come from fishing nets.

MURDER, SLAVERY AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Fishing affects not only the marine ecosystem, but also human rights. In the first place because the safety of those who watch it, is compromised. Sometimes, for example, government observers responsible for monitoring fishing activities are killed on ships and thrown overboard, as in the case of Keith Davis. Ali said 18 observers had disappeared in 5 years in Papua New Guinea. In the Philippines, in 2015, Gerlie Alpajora was threatened by a fishing family and then murdered.

 

IS THERE SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES? FISH FARMING
In search of an answer to the possible existence of a sustainable form of fishing, Ali sets his attention on intensive fish farming. Could they have less impact on the ecosystem of the seas? No, because farm fish are fed with fish caught in the oceans. And the living conditions of the fish on these farms are far from sustainable. Massaged in very small spaces, hygiene is not always at the “rendez-vous”.

Finally, the ethical discussion is focused on the opening as well as the closing theme with the story of Grindadráp, the slaughter of whales for the livelihood of the inhabitants of the Faroe Islands.
What is the ethical limit of sustainable fishing remains the big question mark.

IS THE STOP OF THE CONSUMPTION OF FISH THE SOLUTION?
It is estimated that we catch up to 2.7 billion fish per year, that is the equivalent of 5 million fish per minute. From an ethical and environmental point of view, is it possible to continue to consume fish in this way?
Tabrizi really does not think so.

THE CRITICS

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There has been criticism from all fronts. First, those from the entities attacked in the documentary.
As such, we have Oceana which writes that “abstaining from eating fish is not a realistic choice for the hundreds of millions of people around the world who depend on coastal fishing.”
For the Marine Stewardship Council, “to say that there is no such thing as sustainable fishing is fake news. On the contrary, fish populations can regenerate and recover if they are carefully managed over the long term.”

Critics have also come from Earth Island, which reports the words of David Phillips, director of the International Marine Mammal Project: “While dealing with critical issues, Seaspiracy is unfortunately doing a disservice to a number of organizations that are performing a fundamental work to protect the oceans and marine life.” 
The National Fisheries Institute called the 90-minute documentary vegan propaganda.

There are also many rcritics from major newspapers:

Notably, on the New York Times, we read: “The rhetorical style of the film often resembles a cheap imitation of hard-hitting investigative journalism.” 
The Guardian reports: “Seaspiracy: Netflix Documentary Accused of Misrepresentation by Participants.” 
And the list could go on.

Eventually, comments from scientists and specialists of the sea world and others are not lacking. The criticisms focus on the inaccuracy of the data: For example, according to the United Nations and the FAO, bycatch or collateral fishing would not represent 40% but 10% of the total.
Criticisms were also formulated regarding the characters interviewed, who are mostly activists. The remark here concerns the lack of people who have studied the oceans scientifically.

AND SO?
There is no doubt that 90 minutes is not enough to adequately exhaust, maybe not even, one of the topics covered by Seaspiracy.
However, we must admit that the documentary is very pleasant to watch, with a very engaging pace. The narration is accompanied by very interesting images and graphics.

Seaspiracy draws attention to issues that go unnoticed when it comes to climate change or ecosystem crisis. Discussing it is fine, even through criticism, as it can lead, in some cases, to personal ideas. It is precisely this information that can make the viewer more aware of what they buy, bring to the table and eat. All this because, beyond the Netflix product itself, we are talking about serious and urgent problems, such as intensive agriculture, human rights linked to the world of fishing, etc. ...

In the end, Seaspiracy is a product that knows how to keep the viewer in suspense, ultimately leaving them with a feeling of need for immediate individual action.

We are at a point in history where we will have to make a choice, says Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global, who co-produced the documentary, “Either we stop supporting the destructive and unsustainable industry that is destroying our ocean or we continue on the current path and find our ocean empty during our lifetime. We are at war with the ocean; and if we win this war, we lose everything else because mankind cannot live on this planet with a dead sea.” 

The pretext of the documentary to open the debate has therefore served.

Brice Ulrich AFFERI